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Communities considering pay-as-you-throw often want to learn what results they can expect following implementation. As the number of communities using these programs has grown over the last decade, more has been learned about the impact of this approach to solid waste management.

Each community measures success differently. Some focus on keeping costs down. Others are concerned with reducing waste disposal amounts. In most cases, the issues of greatest concern to individual communities are reflected in the goals that they set prior to designing and implementing their programs.

While results inevitably will vary between different communities, a growing body of research on pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) is providing more information about how these programs work. Insights from these studies are helping solid waste planners estimate the impact that charging a variable rate for waste collection and disposal may have in their city or town.

Illegal diversion was also considered-and found to be less of a problem than communities often assume. Forty-eight percent of the cities and towns saw no change in illegal diversion, while 6 percent felt it declined after PAYT was implemented. Just 19 percent felt it increased. (Twenty-seven percent had no information.)

needs alt disc. Studies like this one are helping to illustrate the kinds of impacts that PAYT is having in communities across the country. Individual communities starting up new programs, however, have a significant amount of control over their results. For example, a community interested in achieving the greatest possible reductions in waste can design its rate structure to maximize the waste reduction incentive. If minimizing illegal diversion is critical, a strong public education and outreach effort backed up with a strict policy of enforcement is often effective. While the impact of PAYT in individual communities is difficult to forecast, planners often can design their programs to achieve the results they need.

In addition, monitoring and evaluation often plays a key role in helping communities to realize their program goals. Planners usually gather and analyze data on their program's performance following implementation. If key results have not been achieved, the program often can be modified as needed. Periodically analyzing their PAYT program helps planners to understand its impact and make any needed improvements.

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Additional resources

For a summary of recent research, visit the Fall 1997 issue of the PAYT Bulletin. Additional studies are presented in their entirety in the research section of this Web site. A review of the literature covering the impact of PAYT can be found in the Annotated Bibliography section of the Pay-As-You-Throw Tool Kit. In addition, each of the community case studies contained in the Pay-As-You-Throw Success Stories offers results from individual cities and towns.

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